Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, is “about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we’re likely to find,” writes Paul Krugman in the New York Times. Is this the same Mohamad who commented that the “Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy”? Yes, says Krugman, who calls the remark “inexcusable,” then proceeds to excuse it as “rhetorical red meat” thrown to a “Muslim majority” in his country appropriately angry at America and her allies.
One can always count on liberals like Krugman to excuse the most illiberal religions and ideologies. Liberals defend illiberal Muslim leaders, but afford no excuses to Christian leaders who note radical Islam’s illiberal tendencies. If, as Krugman argues, Mahathir Mohamad, an open anti-Semite, is the most progressive Islamic leader “we’re likely to find,” how unreasonable is it for Christian leaders to criticize Islam?
The flap over Army Lt. General William Boykin’s criticism of Islam — a criticism liberals find so inflammatory they had to publicize it to make sure Muslims were inflamed — illustrates a revealing skittishness. Were Islam as peaceful as liberals assert, why would they need to purge our government of Christians critical of Islam? The big media has editorialized that the Bush administration must “fire” Boykin in order to pacify the Islamic world. Why would a religion of peace need to be pacified?
The diplomatic urgency of saying that Islam is a religion of peace lies in the fact that in many parts of the world it isn’t one. The liberals are in effect saying, “Unless we all agree to call Islam a religion of peace, Muslims will war on us.”
Millions of Muslims are moderate. But does that mean Islam is a moderate religion? The liberal rhetoric about Islam contains a contradiction which suggests that it isn’t: Even as liberals describe it as a religion of peace, they call for it “to be reformed.” Why do they need to reform a religion that they say is already peaceful? By “reforming Islam,” don’t they mean removing the Koran from Islam and replacing it with their liberalism? They want a liberal Islam, which would end up being liberalism without the Islam.
In the meantime, liberals put the best construction on illiberal Islam while putting the most sinister construction on Boykin’s Christianity. They call him an intolerant “exclusivist,” then soft-pedal the intolerance of Mahathir Mohamad.
Krugman more or less attributes Mohamad’s anti-Semitism to America’s war in “Iraq and unconditional support for Ariel Sharon.” But Boykin’s remarks are not attributed to Muslim terrorists crashing planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Only liberalism could look at a tidal wave of terrorism coming out of the Islamic world and conclude that Christianity, not Islam, is the religion of provocation. James Carroll of the Boston Globe says that the doctrines of Christianity are too provocative and intolerant for the world to tolerate anymore — “exclusivist claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. When Catholics speak of ‘salvation’ only through Jesus, or when Protestants limit ‘justification’ to faith in Jesus, aspersions are cast on the entire non-Christian world.”
So let’s add this up: Boykin calls Islam a false religion and is a war-mongering “bigot”; Carroll calls Christianity a false religion and is a peace-loving progressive.
Had Boykin called Christianity idolatrous, liberals might be calling for his promotion. The liberal editorialists calling for his head don’t consider a believing Christian fit for government service. But a disbelieving Christian like Carroll is.
The liberal death wish is surreal. The more radical Muslims war on Christians and Jews, the more liberals apologize for Islam and badmouth and mistrust Christianity and Judaism. This is an historical anomaly. Usually when a culture is attacked it seeks to strengthen its own predominant religions. Our culture considers the best defense against further attack to weaken them.
Christians, if they wish to serve in government, aren’t even permitted to define Islam as many of its sheiks and scholars define it — as a religion of jihad. Do liberals understand Islam better than its Koranic experts do? Christians who say that Islam is a religion that authorizes jihad against the West aren’t inventing that claim; they are reporting it. Legions of Muslim scholars throughout history have said that militant Islam is orthodox Islam. But a Christian who takes this seriously — who seeks to understand Islam as Muslims understand it rather than as liberals would like it understood — can’t play a role in their country’s defense against a threat that comes from that very Islamic understanding?
Boykin now faces a “Pentagon probe,” reports the press. His claims have sparked an “internal investigation.” Meanwhile, the claims of radical Islam go uninvestigated, even as its most “forward-looking” leaders engage in rank anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity.